Watch a walkthrough of Cal NORML and NORML’s Smoke the Vote guides, from our Sept. 2 statewide Zoom meeting.
Visit NORML’s Smoke the Vote Guide and enter in your zip code or address to find Congressional candidates, as well as candidates for the State Senate and Assembly in your district. Some key races are described below.
Cal NORML is seeking input on local elections and ballot measures that will be voted on in November (actually, starting in October with mail-in ballots). We are interested in knowing candidates’ voting records on marijuana policy reform, and statements they have made about the topic. Send input here.
GREEN = Good position/record; RED = Bad position/record;
BLACK = Neutral/unknown
Cannabis activist and supporter Diana Esmeralda Holte is running for Adelanto city council.
In the Benicia Mayor’s race, candidate Steve Young is a cannabis supporter.
Running for Eureka City Council is Liza Welch, former board member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Mills College, where she earned a masters degree in public policy.
In Irvine, pro-cannabis attorney Lauren Johnston-Norris is running for city council.
For Oakland city council: Rebecca Kaplan (At Large District) has been a leader on cannabis issues for many years. She co-authored the city’s pioneering 2004 Measure Z ordinance for legalizing adult use of cannabis . Dan Kalb (District 1) is OK of late on cannabis; his opponent Tri Ngo may be slightly better, based on his rhetoric. Lynette McElhaney (District 3) has gone out of her way to hear from cannabis supporters; Noel Gallo (District 5) has reliably voted for cannabis and also sponsored the city’s pioneering ordinance decriminalizing psychedelic plants. Marshon Tatmon and Marci Hodge (District 7) seem to have good attitudes about cannabis; they are running against Treva Reid, the daughter of retiring Larry Reid, the council’s leading opponent of cannabis.
San Diego: Todd Gloria is endorsed by local advocates as a cannabis-friendly candidate for Mayor.
In the San Francisco Supervisor races, the Brownie Mary Club has endorsed Marjan Philour (District 1), Danny Sauter (District 3), Valerie Brown and Dean Preston (District 5), Myrna Melgar (District 7), Hillary Ronen (District 9), and John Avalos (District 11). Also, for the SF Community College Board: Tom Temprano and Shanell Williams.
Santa Cruz County 1st District Supervisor John Leopold (friendsofjohnleopold.com) has been a vociferous supporter of cannabis for years, going back to the early days of Prop 215 when the Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) was fighting the federal government.
West Hollywood councilmember John Duran is a longtime proponent of medical marijuana and helped to remove cannabis from a nonsmoking ordinance in August; voting in favor of banning cannabis smoking in residences was Councilmember John Heilman, who is up for re-election. Challengers for the at-large seats include Sepi Shyne, who supports cannabis users rights, and John Erickson, who supported eliminating cannabis from the city’s residential smoking ban.
Measure Q will allow taxation of up to 15% on cannabis businesses, or up to $20 per square foot for cultivation.
Measure L will decide whether to allow distributors to set up shop and impose a distribution tax of up to 10% on company gross receipts. The town already permits retailers, cultivators, manufacturing and testing.
If approved, Measure C’s tax system would be based on square foot of canopy, instead of the current tax that’s based on dry weight of marijuana.
Voters will decide on a general cannabis business tax of up to 10% on gross receipts, essentially a starting point for the City Council to craft an industry ordinance. The city currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
This L.A. suburb will vote on whether to allow four “commercial cannabis operation centers.” The measure appears to leave the door open to allowing licensees to choose the types of companies – retail, cultivation, manufacturing – they would operate.
Another L.A. suburb, voters will weigh in on six MJ company-development agreements struck between city officials and businesses.
This Orange County city could become the second to allow commercial cannabis shops if voters approve a ballot question allowing the City Council to establish a retail marijuana tax of 4% to 7%. The city already allows manufacturing, testing and distribution.
Voters in this beach town north of San Diego will decide whether to allow commercial marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and up to four retail shops. The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
In this town northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area, voters will weigh in on Measure C. It would establish a general cannabis business tax of up to $10 per square foot of canopy for cultivators, 6% of gross receipts for retailers and 4% of gross receipts for all other license types.
Grass Valley, Nevada County
Cannabis businesses aren’t permitted yet in this town, but the city council has put a measure on the ballot to tax them. Gardens would be taxed at between $.50 and $4 / sq.ft. annually; dispensaries at 4% of gross profits, and manufacturers, distributors and testing labs at 2% of gross profits. Proponents, led by Mayor Swarthout, aim to raise $$$ for the city; opponents think the taxes are too high.
Another L.A. suburb, voters here will decide whether to approve a 5% gross receipts general cannabis business tax. The city currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
Voters in this desert town east of Los Angeles will decide whether to allow up to seven new marijuana retailers, along with some zoning changes.
Another Orange County city, this ballot measure is advisory only: If voters back it, there’s no certainty the town will move forward with cannabis business licensing. In particular, the ballot question asks if voters want the city to authorize marijuana retailers. The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
A third Orange County city with a marijuana ballot question, this one would authorize four cannabis-delivery businesses and a tax of up to 6% on gross receipts. The city already permits distributors and testing labs.
In this San Diego suburb, voters will decide on a general cannabis business tax of up to 8% of gross receipts. The city currently allows only medical marijuana dispensaries and no other types of businesses, so a yes vote could open the door to recreational businesses.
- $10 per square foot of canopy for cultivators.
- 6% of gross receipts for retailers.
- 4% of gross receipts for all other business types.
The city currently prohibits marijuana businesses.
Voters will consider a general marijuana and hemp business tax of up to:
- $10 per square foot of canopy for cultivators.
- 6% of gross receipts for retailers.
- 4% gross receipts for all other business types.
Measure L, sponsored by the Keep Cannabis Away from Kids Coalition, seeks to curtail industrial cannabis in the town. The measure would cap the number of licensees, subject license holder to unannounced inspections, and make license renewals more difficult.
Oceanside voters will decide a ballot measure that establishes a range of 2 percent to 6 percent for medical or recreational retailers, manufacturers and distributors, and up to 3.5 percent for cultivators. The exact percentage within that range would be set by the City Council after the measure is approved. In May, Oceanside approved its first medical, delivery-only cannabis dispensary, MedLeaf, to open in an industrial park near the municipal airport.
Voters will vote on a general cannabis business tax that will begin at 3% of gross receipts for all businesses. However, city officials could increase that levy to as much as 10%.
A suburb south of San Francisco, voters will decide whether to support a general cannabis business tax of up to 10% of gross receipts. The city currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
San Joaquin County
This Central Valley county, which includes Stockton, will vote on a general cannabis business tax of 3.5% to 8% of gross receipts for all business types as well as an annual $2-per-square-foot fee for growers.
Voters in this town, another San Diego suburb, will decide whether to allow at least two storefront marijuana retailers along with indoor cultivation and delivery. Recreational sales would be taxed at 1.25%. The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
Voters will choose between two cannabis ballot measures, unless one is removed by Friday, Aug. 7. The first, a more restrictive measure placed on the ballot by the City Council, would establish a general cannabis business tax of up to:
- 4% of gross receipts for retailers, manufacturers and indoor growers.
- 3% for distributors.
- 2.5% for outdoor cultivators.
- 2% for testing labs.
The second, a looser measure supported by local marijuana advocates, would remove license caps on all cannabis business types.
Voters in one of the three famed counties that comprise California’s Emerald Triangle will decide on a general marijuana cultivation tax:
- For cannabis flower, the tax would be $15.44 per pound.
- For marijuana leaves, it would be $4.59 per pound.
- For fresh cannabis plant material, the tax would be $2.16 per pound.
The measure would also establish an annual 2.5% gross receipts tax for retailers, though the county does not yet permit retailers.
Voters will consider Measure V, a general cannabis business tax of:
- $10 per square foot of canopy for indoor growers.
- $7 per square foot for mixed-light growers.
- $4 for cultivators that use no artificial lighting.
- $2 per square foot for nurseries.
Residents also will vote on a 6%-gross-receipts tax for retailers, 3% for distributors and 2% for testing labs. The city currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
Voters in this town, just north of L.A., will choose whether to adopt a general cannabis business tax of up to $10 per square foot of canopy for cultivators, 8% gross receipts for retailers and 4% for all other business types. The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
Fitted between L.A. and Santa Barbara counties, this county is asking its voters to weigh Measure O, which would allow commercial cultivation, processing, manufacturing and distribution – but not retail sales – in unincorporated parts of the county. The county currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
Also located in California’s wine country, Yountville is asking voters to decide Ballot Measure T, which would authorize:
- A single retail operation in the city.
- A local cannabis tax of 3% of gross receipts.
The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
YES Proposition 17: Constitutional amendment allowing felony parolees to vote
NO Proposition 20: Rolls back sentencing and parole reforms enacted via Propositions 47 and 57
NO Proposition 25: Referendum to overturn California’s prohibition on cash bail
GREEN = Good position/record; RED = Bad position/record; BLACK = Neutral/unknown
8th Congressional District
In the huge 8th Congressional district stretching from Mono Lake to Twentynine Palms that is being vacated by Paul Cook, Republican Assemblyman Jay Obernolte will face Democrat Chris Bubser an engineer-turned-biotech advisor familiar with medical benefits of medical cannabis from work with disability community. She believes cannabis is a “perfect opportunity” for economic development in the community. Obernolte has a “D” rating from NORML. In 2018, he voted against AB 1793, to expunge past marijuana convictions and also voted against bills to allow for cannabis compassion programs, veterinarians to recommend cannabis, and schoolchildren to use medical marijuana. He did vote yes on a bill (AB2020) to expand places where cannabis events can be held and AJR 27 to ask the DOJ to allow state licensing for cannabis businesses. His opponent Busber has an unknown position on marijuana.
21st Congressional District (Central Valley)
In District 21, where Democrat TJ Cox narrowly unseated Republican David Valadao in 2016, the two candidates are in a rematch in November. Cox is friendly to marijuana; Valadao voted against every marijuana reform measure and opposes recreational legalization, although he co-sponsored an industrial hemp bill in the CA legislature.
25th Congressional District (Santa Clarita area, LA County)
Democrat Christy Smith lost a special election to Republican Mike Garcia for the seat vacated by Katie Hill in May, but the two will have a re-match in November. Smith has an excellent voting record in the California legislature; Garcia, a former Naval officer who works for the military contractor Raytheon, favors mandatory minimums.
42nd Congressional District (Southwest Riverside county)
Marijuana opponent Ken Calvert (R) will face a challenge from progressive Democrat Liam O’Mara in November. O’Mara’s website says, “The war on drugs was a bad idea from the start, and drug enforcement needs to end – drug addiction is a medical issue, not a criminal one, and I am for decriminalization and amnesty for non-violent users.”
50th Congressional District (San Diego)
In Duncan Hunter’s former district, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar has the support of San Diego NORML. His opponent, Republican Darrell Issa, has a long and dismal voting record against marijuana, medical and otherwise.
53rd Congressional District (San Diego)
This double-Democratic race for Susan Davis’s seat pits San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez against Sarah Jacobs, who worked in policy positions at the U.S. State Department, UNICEF, and the United Nations in the Obama administration, and was policy advisor to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
Gomez’s website says, “In Congress, Georgette will fight for treatment programs for non-violent drug offenders, federal legalization of marijuana, eliminate mandatory minimums, end cash bail and increase funding for the FBI’s Civil Rights Division.” Jacobs says, “It’s time for the federal government to de-criminalize cannabis. And we need to make sure that tax money derived from legal cannabis sales go back to rebuilding communities that have been devastated by the drug wars, and that we pardon all those who are in the criminal justice system due to non-violent marijuana-related offenses that would now be considered legal.”
Senate District 15 (San Jose)
Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese has the support of local cannabis activists; his opponent is Ann Ravel, an Obama appointee to the Federal Elections Commission.
Senate District 17 (Santa Cruz)
Democrat John Laird is supported by local marijuana reform advocates. He faces Republican Vicki Nohrden.
Senate District 13 (Silicon Valley)
In this seat being vacated by Jerry Hill, Democrat Josh Becker is neck-and-neck with Republican Alexander Glew. Becker had positive, thoughtful responses to Cal NORML’s candidate survey, and favors legalization.
KEY STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICTS
Assembly District 13 (San Joaquin)
San Joaquin County Supervisor Kathy Miller against former Supervisor Carlos Villapuda. Miller voted in favor of putting a measure on the ballot to license an unlimited number of cannabis businesses in 2018. Villapuda is endorsed by the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations.
Assembly District 25 (Milpitas)
Currently represented by Democratic Representative Kansen Chu, who is terming out. Republican Bob Brunton will face Democrat Alex Lee for the seat, a Democratic stronghold and majority Asian district. Lee, who’s been a legislative policy advisor for the state Senate and Assembly, is affiliated with California Young Democrats and is strongly in favor of marijuana legalization.
Assembly District 34 (Kern)
Incumbent Vince Fong, a Republican, has a poor voting record on cannabis. His challenger is Julie Solis, a member of the pro-cannabis Brownie Mary Democratic Club and the Kern County Democratic Central Committee.
Assembly District 36 (Palmdale)
Incumbent Tom Lackey, is an ex-CHP officer and leading Republican co-sponsor of legislation to legally regulate cannabis with a B+ NORML rating. His opponent, Democrat Steve Fox, had a dismal 0% voting record on cannabis issues in 2013-4 legislature; his NORML grade is an F.
Assembly District 37 (Santa Barbara)
The seat is currently held by Democrat Monique Limon, who is terming out and running for state Senate. Democrat Steve Bennett is a Ventura County Supervisor who voted in favor of allowing medical marijuana businesses in 2017. He will face Republican Charles Cole.
Assembly District 57 (Whittier)
This race in a solidly Democratic district pits labor-favored Lisa Calderon against Republican Jessica Martinez.
Calderon is running to succeed her stepson Ian Calderon, who followed his father and two uncles into the Legislature. Interest groups dumped more than $2.7 million into the primary race, making it the most expensive independent expenditure battleground in the state.
Assembly District 67 (Lake Elsinore)
Democrat Jerry Carlos faces Republican Kelly Seyarto for this vacant seat that was represented by Republican Melissa Melendez, who has just won a state Senate seat (and had a bad voting record). Carlos is former policeman who says most cops on the beat understand arresting people for pot is futile; he favors marijuana legalization. Seyarto is a 35-year firefighter and mayor of Murietta. In August 2019, Murietta voted to allow for hemp businesses and cannabis testing labs to operate in the city, but continued its ban on any other cannabis businesses.
Assembly District 73 (Dana Point)
Republican and Laguna Niguel Mayor Laurie Davies beat current Assemblyman William Brough (R) in this district in the March primary. Laguna Niguel does not permit any type of cannabis business. Her opponent is Scott Rhinehart, who has participated in political advocacy, such as working to defeat The Briggs Initiative, Proposition 8 (the anti-gay ‘California Marriage Protection Act’) and fought to increase funding for HIV/AIDS prevention. “I am also a passionate supporter of full and equal rights for all Americans, particularly worker’s and women’s rights.”